Panhellenic VP Recruitment drives Rush to be positive experience

For Caroline Cavallo, the Panhellenic Council’s vice president of recruitment, formal recruitment is much more than a thousand girls power-walking between sorority houses in matching navy blue shirts. It is the process that makes it possible for women to find the same thing she was looking for when she was a freshman at the University: a “home away from home.”

“She has a clear picture of formal recruitment’s final goal and what it’s about,” said Margarita Altidis, president of Panhellenic Council and senior in LAS. Altidis and Cavallo, a senior in ACES, worked together as assistants to the previous VP Recruitment. Altidis has watched Cavallo thrive in her new role.

“The fact that she has that background (as an assistant) makes her ready to face anything,” Altidis said. “She took a lot of what she learned from last year’s formal recruitment and has taken that vision and just expanded on it.”

Cavallo strives to make recruitment the positive experience it was for her when she became the first woman in her family to “go Greek.” Cavallo quickly engaged in active roles in her sorority (PHC members cannot reveal their affiliation to any sorority until after recruitment is over). As a part of the recruitment board at her chapter, she gained experience in the behind-the-scenes processes of recruitment as a PHC recruitment assistant and was planning to continue that work the following year — but the VP Recruitment at the time had other ideas.

“One night (she) said after we had worked together for like 12 hours straight that I really should apply,” Cavallo explained. “So I did, and coincidentally I ended up right where I should have been, and it has been very much worth it.”

Andrew Hohn, assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs and Panhellenic adviser, said that Cavallo jumped into planning right away last January.

“Caroline has a lot of passion around what she does,” Hohn said. “You can see that in how she came into (her position) already with things she wanted to improve upon.”

She oversees anything from schedules for the Gamma Chis (group leaders for the women participating in recruitment) and planning for recruitment-kickoff events, to T-shirt designs and unforeseen challenges like bad weather.

The good news for Cavallo, she said, is that she has the rest of PHC to support her.

“It’s been a great dynamic,” she said about the PHC executive board. “We are all from different houses, and so we all come in with different ideas and perspectives on things, but we’ve all gotten along so well and work well as a team.”

One of the challenges Cavallo faced this year was enforcing a new format for one of the rounds of recruitment. She said that the chapters have met and exceeded her expectations — something that Altidis insisted is largely due to Cavallo’s approach.

“She just picks up the problem and transforms it into a solution,” Altidis said. “She’s very good at pointing out the problem specifically, addressing it and motivating others to move on from it.”

Margaret Callaghan, VP operations for PHC and senior in Business, has worked alongside Cavallo throughout recruitment’s many months of planning and agreed that Cavallo’s optimistic mindset, as well as her work ethic, is key to her success as VP Recruitment.

“She puts in so many hours and just keeps a positive attitude no matter what happens,” Callaghan said.

Besides her active role in PHC, Cavallo also balances a full courseload of animal sciences and chemistry classes, involvement in the Illini Service Dogs club and competitive horse showings. Last spring, Cavallo’s credentials earned her a Fred H. Turner Internship with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, which Hohn described as a prestigious position awarded to three rising seniors.  

Given her busy schedule, Cavallo admitted that she sometimes needs to indulge in some relaxation hours with a bowl of popcorn while watching a chick-flick or comedy to decompress after those particularly long days.

“I just accept that the day is over, and I’m not going to stay up late just doing 10 more thousand things,” she said.

When all of the highly anticipated bid cards have been distributed and new members are officially part of their new chapters, Cavallo knows that the bulk of her job is done, and she will be able to enjoy the positive results of her hard work.

After recruitment, Cavallo will work toward graduation and take a year to show horses competitively.

Although she is not 100 percent sure whether veterinary school is in her future, she is certain that her experience as VP Recruitment will contribute to her future successes.

“The leadership experience and working with different people, trying to solve problems as a group — I definitely think it will help shape me as a person for years to come.”

Maggie can be reached at [email protected]